The Belarusian ruble weakened sharply to 8,600 rubles to the dollar compared with the official rate of 5,347 rubles. On the black market, the battered currency had been trading around 8,000 per dollar.
The official rate remains in use for some transactions, mainly state-owned factories and businesses needing to buy imported materials, but all other currancy trading will use the floated value.
Belarus is mired in its worst financial crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s government already had devalued the ruble by some 50 percent this year, causing panic buying of staples and huge lines at foreign exchange offices.